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Why contractors shouldn't work all the hours they can

Paystream News

Michelle Derungs

Friday 5th May, 2017

The desire to achieve a better work-life balance is one of the main factors behind many workers' decisions to begin working for themselves as a limited company contractor or freelancer.

However, in the first few months of working as a limited company contractor, it can be tempting to work all hours possible in a bid to impress your clients and set yourself apart from others.

Indeed, with working on a contract basis becoming increasingly popular and the traditional nine-to-five working day declining due to a rise in flexible working options, people are able to work more hours than ever should they want to, particularly as they can stay connected to their work emails via mobile devices.

But new research released to coincide with World Health Day earlier this month shows that this 'always-on' mentality could be harming people's wellbeing. So, how can limited company contractors reclaim their work-life balance?

Are you working too much?

Research carried out by Bupa UK led to the discovery that more than half (55 per cent) of workers in Britain are now able to access their work emails from wherever they are, with 75 per cent feeling under pressure to respond as soon as they see a notification pop up, even if they're meant to have finished for the day or it's the weekend.

As a result, almost one-quarter (24 per cent) of respondents said they felt that their job controlled their life, leading half of female workers and two in five males to feel as though they do not get enough time to themselves to switch off from their job.

Concerningly, one-third (33 per cent) of those questioned reported checking their work emails while on sick leave, with workers aged between 16 and 24 most likely to do this.

In the Midlands, 41 per cent of workers admitted to looking at their work inbox while on annual leave, which demonstrates that the changing face of the world of work is having a detrimental impact on some people's lives - but this doesn't have to be the case.

Pablo Vandenabeele, Clinical Director for Mental Health at Bupa UK, commented: "Like our mobile devices, if we don't get the opportunity to recharge, we cannot work - at least not very well.

"Technology has transformed the workplace and we no longer need to be at our desks in order to get the job done. However, working remotely means that the majority of us allow work to encroach on our home life."

So, how can limited company contractors, freelancers and other flexible workers who operate remotely reclaim their work-life balance?

How to reclaim your work-life balance

Here are our top tips for establishing a better balance between your personal and professional life:

Stick to set office hours - Even though you're working from home and don't have to stick to nine-to-five office hours, it's important to make sure you get into some sort of routine. Give yourself a set time to finish each day and try to stick to it as much as possible so that your evenings are your own and you fully benefit from getting to choose your own working hours, which is one of the main perks of contracting.

Have a separate work phone - It's important to keep your personal and professional lives separated as much as you can to prevent your work from encroaching on your downtime, so think about investing in a second phone. You can make sure all work email notifications are disabled on your personal phone and take this one away with you to prevent yourself from getting distracted by work.

Have a set work space - Try to create a study or other work space somewhere in your home and don't spend any time in it outside of the working hours you set yourself.

Keep your clients informed - Let your clients know as far in advance as possible when you'll be away on holiday or taking some time out in order to manage expectations and prevent work getting in the way of your time off. Make sure you set an automatic out-of-office response to your email account too before going away that lets people know when you'll be back.

Don't shy away from help - PayStream's limited company service, My PSC, is on hand to provide administrative help, as well as support and advice to contractors, meaning they can focus on completing assignments to a high standard during their working hours rather than spending too much time on their limited company admin. My PSC will make sure everything is being managed in the most tax-efficient way, helping to save you even more time in the long run.

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